Graduation Year

2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.L.A.

Degree Granting Department

Humanities and Cultural Studies

Major Professor

Margit Grieb

Keywords

Berlin is in Germany, colonization, East-German dispossession, East-German identity, Good Bye, Lenin!, post-Wall cinema

Abstract

Even 24 years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall, modern day Germans are still preoccupied with the contentious dynamics of the post-Wall unification process. Concern with geo-political fractiousness is deeply rooted in German history and the reason for Germany's desire to become a unified nation. The Fall of the Wall, and the subsequent rejection of socialism, was a chance to recover and unify what was perceived to be an "incomplete" nation. Yet, despite these actions, social unity between East and West Germans has never occurred and the Wall still persists as a metaphorical barrier in the minds of German citizens. Thus, the unification process should be critically evaluated so that the lingering (social) disunity between East and West Germans may be better understood and potentially remedied.

This thesis examines how two post-Wall films, Good Bye, Lenin! (2003) and Berlin is in Germany (2001) reveal patterns that explain the lingering disunity between East and West from an underrepresented lens: an East German perspective. I do so by investigating whether these films offer insights into the culture of the former GDR, which was ideologically, institutionally, and socio-economically divided from the West for over 40 years. This argument is supported by an analysis of how Good Bye, Lenin! and Berlin is in Germany confront the audience with a new (East German) hero who has to navigate a "foreign" terrain and is expected to adapt to and embrace this entirely new culture. Both films allude to the East German sentiment of longing for GDR culture and values as an attempt to maintain an East German identity while being threatened by overpowering "colonization" by the West.

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